Jason Heyward’s lasting Cubs moment one of team’s biggest ever

Jason Heyward’s lasting moment one of Cubs biggest ever originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Merkle’s Boner? Homer in the Gloamin'? The Steve Bartman incident?

As far as lasting moments in Cubs franchise lore, they’re all at the top.

And there’s no question Jason Heyward’s lasting moment in a Cubs uniform is right there alongside those three: his rain delay speech during Game 7 of the 2016 World Series.

“I felt like that was probably the first time I had seen everyone just not really having much to say,” Heyward said of the 2016 Cubs. “Everyone kind of being dumbfounded a little bit, being down, and rightfully so.

“Because of all the weight of the curse, because it's Game 7, because we're not at Wrigley, because they have a lot of momentum. A lot of things did not go our way at one time.”

Heyward’s speech is well known at this point. He called a team meeting after Game 7 entered a rain delay — and after Cleveland stormed back to tie the game off Aroldis Chapman in the eighth inning.

The Cubs and Chapman were able to preserve the tie and send the game to extras, and Heyward sensed a moment to remind a 103-win team who they were.

“I was like, ‘Man, I gotta say something,” Heyward said. “I gotta remind these dudes of how I f------ see them, because they're amazing. They're gladiators.’

“And through every up, every down in that season, it didn't matter. We always had an answer, and it was to laugh at it, have fun with it, talk sh-- to each other, see who will come out on top and then praise the people that came through in that game, that night.”

Heyward met the media Thursday to discuss his time with the Cubs, who plan to release him after this season before the final season of his eight-year contract.

RELATED: Jason Heyward plans to play in ‘23 — then return to Cubs?

David Ross was teammates with Heyward on the Braves (2010-12) and Cubs (2016) before managing him the last three seasons.

When asked which Heyward moments stick out, he pinpointed the 2010 home run off Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano in Heyward’s MLB debut — and the rain delay speech.

“Aroldis is upset, in tears,” Ross said. “[Cleveland has] come back. Things are spinning really fast, and we’ve got a moment to reset.

"J-Hey stopped everything and got back to, ‘We are the best team in Major League Baseball. We’ve proven that. And the way we did that was by supporting each other, by playing for one another. And that’s who we are and that’s how we’ve done it up to this point.'"

Heyward, who signed an eight-year, $184 million deal with the Cubs entering 2016, declined to career-worst offensive seasons the past two years and offensively never reached the level of his contract.

But he has always been a respected voice and leader inside the Cubs clubhouse, through good and bad, and the Cubs don't win in 2016 without him.

“When he speaks, it carries so much weight because it’s just direct to the point," Ross said. "It’s said the right way, it’s said in a positive way, and it’s not a voice that’s always talking to talk.

“He’s got a point to what he’s saying, and it’s usually a really good one, every time I’ve heard him speak."

Added Willson Contreras: “J-Hey has been one of the role models that we’ve had on this team, on and off the field. Not only because he had the meeting in 2016, but all throughout the years he was really a pro. I learned a lot from him.”

Make no mistake, though. The rain delay speech played a factor in the outcome on Game 7.

"It most definitely had an effect on the outcome of that game — but just because we were all reminded of who we were and how we got to that point," Heyward said.

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